145. The minor league stolen base record, set by Vince Coleman in A ball. Ricky Henderson holds the MLB record, with 130 stolen bases in 1982. Reds prospect Billy Hamilton currently sits at 139 stolen bases in 113 games. Barring an injury, Hamilton is almost certain to break the record before the season ends.
It didn’t look like Hamilton would keep his torrid pace two weeks ago. Through his first 21 games after promotion to the Double-A Southern League, Hamilton stole just 5 bases. He was still a prospect, and the Reds weren’t going to let an ultimately meaningless record stand in the way of challenging a budding young potential star. But then, something happened. Hamilton turned up the juice, stealing 20 bases in the last 10 games. He stole 3 bases in a game four separate times, and battered .317/.440/.415 in the process.
Hamilton is a legitimate prospect. He’s as fast as you can imagine, given the stolen base totals, but plays shortstop, and reviews are mixed. You have to imagine that he will be moved to center field one day. He has hit .315/.412/.431 this season to go with the stolen bases, and is still just 21 years old.
I’m not sure that I would have called the professional stolen base record an unbreakable one before this season, but it was definitely one of the tougher ones to get through. Hamilton is on pace to blow through it. Any fan of baseball has to love the excitement that he brings to a baseball stadium.
For some perspective, the current MLB leader in stolen bases is Mike Trout, with 36 in 92 games. Hamilton has more stolen bases than the 4 best stealers in the major leagues. And despite playing just 31 games at the level, he is already 4th in stolen bases for the Double-A Southern League. The leader is Josh Prince, who has an impressive 41 in 118 games.
My favorite part: major league players have stolen at least 100 bases in a season twenty one times. The player with the most seasons with 100 stolen bases is Billy Hamilton, who stole most of them with the Philadelphia Athletics from 1890-1895. That Hamilton has no relation to today’s Billy Hamilton, but is 3rd overall in career major league stolen bases. Like the younger Hamilton, the elder was an OBP machine who only hit for power lightly. He got by with his legs. Small world, right?
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